Sunday, August 7, 2011

Robin & Marian Say Hi

Lee came down with a nasty cold last week, but he didn't let that stop us from getting out of the house yesterday and doing some England exploration for the first time in over a month.  So kind of at my suggestion, we headed to Nottingham, home of the world's most famous corrupt lawman...just so I can say I've been there : )  It takes between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to drive there from our house, so not terrible (although not what I'd want to commute every day, either).  Nottingham is actually one of the larger urban areas in the UK.

We got there around 12:30 or 12:45 so of course our first concern was finding a place to eat lunch...well, second concern after finding a place to park.  Since we wanted to do the touristy thing and see Nottingham Castle, we picked this place for lunch, which is nestled at the base of Castle Rock:

This is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (how can you not eat at a pub whose name starts with "Ye Olde", haha!) and claims to date back to 1189, although Wikipedia says (why yes, we do believe everything we read on Wikipedia) there's no historical proof of any such establishment date and that the current building is only about 300 years old.  *Only*, HA!!  The inside was pretty cool.  We grabbed ourselves a tiny table up on the second floor and you could see up into an old chimney.  Should have taken pictures while we were inside but we didn't want to look too touristy...or maybe we were just too hungry.  I had the beef & ale pie, and Lee had hunter's chicken, and while they were both good they weren't quite as good as the Bird in Hand, my favorite pub around here.  But I digress.  According to the legend printed on the menu here, in ye olden days (teehee), a "trip" wasn't a journey but rather a stopover or break in the journey to rest, so "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" is where knights on their way to the Crusades would have stopped to par-tay before heading off to the Holy Land.  I think they need signs like "King Richard the Lion-Hearted Ate Here", but alas, they don't have those.

It started sprinkling when we were walking up to the pub, but luckily the rain had passed by the time we finished eating lunch and we had some pretty blue skies for the rest of our time in Nottingham (although we did get rained on once we were on the way home...better that it waited till we were in the car to do so, that was nice of the weather).

Anywha, I said that the pub is nestled at the bottom of Castle Rock, which is a ginormous piece of sandstone left over from the end of the last ice age and being so much higher up than the surrounding countryside, it is naturally a spiffing place to put a fortress or castle or general Big House.  So we walked part of the way around Castle Rock on our way up to the entrance to the castle itself and who did we see but...

Robin Hood himself!  I made Lee get in the picture.  He's refusing to take pictures anymore in an effort to make me learn how to use the camera better, which of course means lots more photos of Lee instead of me.  Works for me, I think he's pretty cute.

I forgot I was going to take another photo here after we walked all around and then I didn't do it, so this is the best one we got of the gatehouse leading to the castle.  The first fortress/castle was built on the site in 1067 on the orders of everyone's favorite conqueror, William, but it was made out of wood so of course that's not here anymore.   Henry II had a much more impressive stone castle built on the site a century later...he was a busy little builder bee, you may remember he also built the castle at Orford that we visited in March.

At any rate, very little of the old castle remains; you can see just a little of the 12th century stonework in the first level of the castle here.  The castle was razed (I like that word, razed...very fun) in the 17th century.  Henry Cavendish, second Duke of Newcastle, had a "ducal mansion" built on the site but insisted it still be called Nottingham Castle, so obviously he didn't believe in truth in advertising.

Why Robin, you're so....floral.  : )  The grounds here are quite beautifully kept, lots of flowers and neatly manicured lawns.  They do not have my weed problem here, maybe I should try to hire away one of their groundskeepers...ok not really.  But wouldn't it be something to have a yard that looks this nice.

Lee and I think this must be Richard.  Y'know, 'cause he's all lion-y.

The remains of the ducal mansion now house the Nottingham Castle Museum, which sadly has nothing to do with Robin Hood, Maid Marian, the Sheriff of Nottingham, or even any of the Merry Men.  I think there's another museum in town that covers that subject but we didn't have time to check it out.  At any rate, there are several nifty mosaics on the pavement leading to the door to the museum.

I think I missed the signs about taking pictures being forbidden, but this is the only picture I took inside the museum.  This is wedgwood and can I just say that I so totally want a piece of this, isn't it PURTY!!  Several of the pieces are kind of Grecian-inspired, like the ones with the groups of Greek ladies that I'm going to go out on a limb and identify as the Muses just because (click on the photo and look at the pieces on the far left of the top shelf and the far left of the second-from-bottom shelf).

Anyway, we looked around the museum a bit and then did the tour of the caves and tunnels that honeycomb Castle Rock.  The rock itself is made of pretty soft sandstone, and all the caves in it are man-made, not natural, which we thought was interesting.

Lee was a good sport getting his picture taken in the stocks : )

I took one or two photos in the tunnels but really they aren't that interesting to look at.  This photo is of the top opening of Mortimer's Hole.  Remember wicked Queen Isabella, the She-Wolf of France who conspired with her lover Roger Mortimer to (probably) kill King Edward II and steal his crown?   According to legend, Mortimer used to sneak into Nottingham castle through this tunnel to visit Isabella (I'm pretty sure not to play checkers); the tunnel system was used by the castle as a way to transport food and water and supplies up to the castle so I can't think it was really all *that* secret of a tunnel.  Anyway, we visited Queen Isabella's last home in April, Castle Rising Castle, where she lived under house arrest for a number of years.  Mortimer, you may remember, was executed.

Pretty good views of Nottingham from the top of Castle Rock.  I just thought this picture was kind of nifty : )

And here's a view from the bottom of Castle Rock, where you can see some of the passageways that riddle area.  This is part of the reason why Sherwood Forest made such a great hidey-hole for Robin Hood and other outlaws; a.) forests are good to hide in and b.) lots of caves to hide in too.

That bit of flat roof you see on the top is the roof of the ducal mansion.  Kind of gives you a bit of perspective of how tall Castle Rock is.

And...more perspective.

Even though Nottingham Castle itself wasn't nearly as Robin Hood-y as I was hoping, there are quite a few street names in Nottingham that ARE:

We walked around for 15 minutes and drove around for another 10 trying to find a sign that said Maid Marian Way but were unsuccessful, so I took a picture of the GPS to prove it (Lee was driving, not me).  You can also see Friar Lane up towards the top left of the GPS screen.  We had a good time in Nottingham, wouldn't mind going back to check out the Robin Hood museum although Misty said it was tourist schlock.  They're also having a production of Taming of the Shrew on the castle green here at the end of the month, that would be fun to see.


CCsMom said...

Oh yes, you just HAVE to get a piece of that wedgewood stuff. I think it is GORGEOUS. I saw it in the AAFEES catalog when we were in Okinawa the first time and it wasn't cheap -- but a small piece would be a must-have.

Think we're going to take a nap after church. With the heat and not sleeping well last night, we're both whipped. Dad isn't looking forward to going back to work on Tuesday. He sure doesn't have much energy. Great to "see" you this morning. Love you!

Giffysk8s said...

Oh, I am so loving your virtual castle tours! I think you take great photos. I know Lee is good with the camera~does he use manual aperture and all that stuff? I can sort of do it with my cameras, but usually am lazy and just go with automatic, mostly because I don't really know what I am doing. I love the photo with your shadows in it (the mosaic one). I can see you with the camera and Lee just watching. :)

I agree with you and your mom~Wedgewood is beautiful! I don't own any either. But it would be fun to have one little piece.

Oh my, I laughed at Lee in the stocks! I bet I'd lose weight if I were in those! That's about the only way I could stay away from chocolate, LOL!

I love the photo of the garden. I think that the gardens there are so pretty and colorful to make people forget about the rain. Does it work?

My favorite photo is the one of the pub sign. I love the way it's positioned so perfectly in front of the clouds. Good eye, Miss C!

Thoughts by B and M said...

Love the picture of Lee all locked up! hehe! And it's about time he gets into more pictures! Enjoy learning the camera and glad you all got out and about this weekend!!!!